Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pack light in life....

I read somewhere that to learn one adds something each day to one's life, but to become enlightened one must remove something everyday. I really do see this as such a simple illustration to the path of wisdom; where the endeavour is to finally find that exquisite essence that holds the entire flavour of the universe. I was recently within a situation where I was attempting to harness the energies of a group of people in which both the individual and the collective requirements of engagement needed to be equally addressed by them. What sometimes happens in these spaces is that good intentions do not always translate into necessary actions, and as a result opportunities to confront the space of truth to get to that location of wisdom within ones intellectual self, gets squandered.

I was reminded of my years as a student of photography under the guidance of Prof. Jyoti Bhatt, who always insisted that one only needed a basic professional camera with which to take a good photograph. All else depended on what one trains the eye to see. So in the 180 degree spectrum of vision, that holds movement and randomness in most instances, what you freeze as the frame becomes what your mind recognises as relevant.

Arrogance and humility are the two elements that make up my essential "luggage" as I struggle to live each day. I have the arrogance to desire to survive, and require the humility to comprehend my insignificance within the vastness of the universe. Within this balance lies the possibility for me to find myself, with less illusions as a smoke screen between myself and my own truth.

Wisdom requires one to alter ones energies all the time. Like a musical equalizer, ones energies in life must produce the best "pitch", if it is to be pure and magical and uplifting so that one's spirit may truly soar.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Whose afraid of Virgina Wolf!

Life must have the space within which to dream, yet the most advantageous use of dreams in a lifespan is when it holds the vital factors of planning, cast from that rather boring mould called practicality. I have had an unusual life where my choices were not always prescriptive in relation to expected norms. But perhaps the significance of being different from ones peers, is that the alternative road travelled should be a journey which holds deliberation, reason and purpose, and does not entertain the romance of posturing merely because one is attempting to live a dream at all costs!

India is a harsh country, and as I have repeatedly said, more so for women who desire to live outside of the box of societal expectations. To make this a feasible space that does not push you into a corner one must devise a strong mental attitude that holds courage and conviction; where philosophy and survival do not become polemical positions but instead work in compatible ways that nurture the dignity of ones survival at all times.

The art world is a place where often dreams lead to tragic destruction. This is so easily avoidable if simple methods are used to comprehend ones existing reality. There will always be someone out there who believes in you. The problem lies in whether we know what to do with that belief. Feminist journeys are not mere fables but are in fact meticulous maps of strategy that have been born from confronting ones own vulnerabilities. It is a legacy that must be held with responsibility by all of us who have chosen to inherit it.

The most liberating stories of personal struggles are those stories where triumph is the expected result from the orator. Everyone struggles to reach their targeted goals. What is relevant in the lead-up to the success stories, is that each individual understands the relevance of the responsibility to self govern. There in lies the key to ones personal heaven.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

March Hare Stories....

My life has been slightly in dervish mode these last few weeks, but full of excitement and new happenings. Last weekend the Collective Studio hosted a wonderful illustrated talk The Light Within : Paintings by Rabindranath by Indrapramit Ray on Saturday the 19th, which we organised at Surendran's studio. This was followed the next day by a Carnatic classical music recital by flutist Shri G. Rajnarayan, in our drawing room at home on Sunday. The day after I was away in Bombay meeting up informally with some old batch mates and friends from London days, and then flew back the next morning in time for the arrival of my cousin who lives in Canada, who was visiting with us for a day. That evening saw us all roaring with laughter over silly stories that camouflaged deep sentiments that hold us all together as a family.
My cat of course behaves as though she is abandoned if I go just from one room to the next without her, so my departures away from the home are treated with extreme symptoms of tragic rejection on her part! As we do our teaching sessions after dinner on some nights, she lies in contorted positions of blissful sleep in the Clive chair, as the merits and demerits of painting float into her fur-dream-subconscious- comatose state of repose.

In Bombay there was a reversal of roles at home! Poor Mithun and Samera were up looking bleary eyed with sleep as I sauntered home from partying in the wee hours of the morning! Even Noni the gold fish looked disapprovingly at the old lady decked up in a sari, as she swam feverishly in circles in her fish bowl to register her dissatisfaction with me. Thankfully unlike Begum, she did not resort to ankle nips as punishment tactics!

Each day in the ritual of reading the newspaper, I know I will confront more news that emotionally chokes me up. The situation in Japan has become so critical that friends are informing me that many lives are being exposed to fatal consequences in order to address the nuclear crisis. Why do nations have so little anticipation of reality, given the information available that pre-suggests the lethal dangers of relying so heavily on nuclear energy? Japanese people engaged in the exercise of cooling down the nuclear reactors are now resigned to the fact that their bodies will be contaminated by radiation. If these are not suicide missions then I wonder what else we can call them.

On the other hand the bombing of Libya by the US brings with it emotions of deep conflict. I despair that Gaddafi is massacring his own people, yet I wonder whether waging a war with Libya becomes the solution that can address this civil unrest and bring the change of leadership that the Libyan people seek. Back home, our own central government has become so embroiled in numerous messy political scandals that comprehending which scam is being focused upon often becomes quite a mental exercise in itself.

I am doing a painting that originates as a memory of my adopted grand-daughter Aditi, wearing her traditional Korean outfit. However it isn't a portrait of her at all but is a painting that is about the retrieval of innocence. There are many times that I need such touchstones to preserve my optimism and keep intact the faith of goodness.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cherry blossom trees will bloom again soon dear friends

I was invited for a three month residency program to the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Fukuoka in Japan in 2004. It was a country that taught me many things and where I encountered a work ethics that was humbling in its productivity and selflessness. Despite the language constraints, I bobbed and bowed about the museum making friends and over the period of my stay, imprinting cultural influences whilst simultaneously receiving in ways that were effortless and derived from curiosity that comes without the impediment of fear.

I have made friends for life in Japan, and also have a spiritual daughter there who thinks of me as her Indian mama. Hearing the news of the Tsunami and viewing the ravaging of its fury on television, holds my heart in the grip of great sorrow. There is a stoicism towards tragedy and destruction that this nation's proud people always masks their emotions with. Private and fiercely independent, they carry a historic pain of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a constant reminder of the horrors of human devastation. Today once again the Japanese will garner their will and spirit to overcome and make peace with the turmoil that overwhelms them.

Last evening I was remembering how insignificant I always feel when I stand at night in front of the sea. realising that all of my harnessed energies are nothing in comparison with the latent forces of nature. We tend to forget this simple truth as we glorify our self images by believing that economic might can out weigh all else. Photographic images of cars and light aeroplanes all swept into concentric circles and looking like toys strewn untidily make your heart skip a beat when it dawns upon you that this is for real.

I was at the hospital yesterday accompanying a young friend who was undergoing some routine pathology investigations and encountered a young boy who is suffering with blood cancer. This beautiful child with a baseball cap covering his hairless head and with eyes brimming with tears from the fatigue of endless needles taking blood samples, still found the grace and spirit to engage in a conversation with this stranger that I was, as I stroked his ear and chatted with him to distract him from this routine trauma that makes up his daily existence. His quiet strength will always be a marker within my life and though I know it is unlikely that I will ever meet up with him again, Om will always be someone I carry in my memory who will inspire me.

The appreciation of life is often kept on the back burner by many of us till something tragic happens to make us realise how little we understood of our joys. Smile today. Bring the best energies of yourself to a space of awareness within yourself, so that you know you are living your life in the true appreciation you need to have of it.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Present in Spirit.....!

Each day I write a blog post in my head! No I have not turned senile yet nor have I completely turned batty either. I am simply unable to get the time to sit and put it out there in the cyber world of our shared communication because right now I am working each day with my spiritual children on the building site, for a home that we are constructing for one of them who is a young and brilliant young painter. The land for this home was purchased by this young artist's parents. However for certain personal reasons the construction of the home was not something they were willing to undertake, and so Surendran and I stepped in to make this an act of belief for someone we love. All those within the collective have given financial aid and personal support towards this project with a generosity that is humbling. The philosophy of the collective that exists at home (which is neither an institution nor a prescriptive space), is one which is based upon the values of co-existence that is founded upon sensitivity, compassion and the desire of nurturing goodness and purposefulness with a belief that life is a privileged energy to have. The collective (as we call it) just exists because it does - and young loved ones who are students or practising artists belong within the embrace of its energy and disciple by personal choice alone. It is an alternative family and I often jokingly refer to our home and lives as a Jane Austin book gone slightly off script!

Women's day saw a great landmark victory of sisterhood. I am grateful that the life of Aruna Shanbaug was valued by a fraternity of women who continue to love and care for her in service because she simply is their "sister". I understand the scientific space of the debate and for myself would not want if ever in this condition, to be kept alive; but choose to stand in a position of emotional empathy with this case.

I am tortured by the situation unfolding in Libya. How a leader can so blatantly lie to his own people is one factor but to do it so incredibly stupidly with stories of hallucinatory drugs distributed by the Al Qaeda and the foreign press, being the reason of the peoples this for real?! What an absolute blundering idiot Gaddafi is. But lets face it. Uncle Sam is once again responsible for much of this mess. Poor Obama....the white brothers did you in historically, so when you desire to step forward to carry forth a legacy, know that it is blood stained and the miracles of a new detergent may not work the magic you anticipated after all.

Am all turbaned up and off to the building site. We have procured free sample tiles donated by stores to us. The sorting and the mix and matching are an exhaustive process, but great fun too. The bathrooms and kitchen are all a patch-work of bizarre wonderment that will never leave this young artist bored in her new home!

So I'm signing off and trudging out to my new job! Send us your good energies to cheer us on.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies

Feminine Syntax:Personal Biographies
An exhibition of six artists curated by me
opened at Lemongrasshopper in Ahmedabad
on the 27th of February 2011.
The show will remain open till
the 27th of March 2011.
For those who were unable to be with us for the opening;
a pictorial walk-through of the gallery.